Michigan Police review policy after Black images used for target practice
Pictures shared to Facebook by lawyer Dionne Webster-Cox show children examining a shooting target featuring a photo of a Black man with a gun. Dionne Webster-Cox / Facebook
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According to The Hill, Jeff King, Michigan police chief of the Farmington Hills, has apologized after photos revealed his department used targets with images of Black men for shooting practice.

King said at a city council meeting late last month that the department is conducting a legal review of the matter.

King states he accepts responsibility for how the training was conducted and apologized to the community, the department and the city council. King states one of the biggest focuses for training is exposure to people based on certain situations and not what they look like.

“We have a diverse community,” King said. “Our community, as well as our department is diverse, inclusive, and that doesn’t stop at our training.”

When diversity goes wrong

Police departments, much like many of America’s corporations, embrace the cliche’s about diversity and tout their advancements in moving our society forward as equals, however, when instances such as this occur it reinforces that much of the inclusion celebrated is solely to check a box.

The sports phrase “practice how you play” comes to mind. And when Black men are used as targets in practice, it painfully crystallizes how so many police-involved shootings and assaults can occur in our communities.

After all, this is hardly the first time police officers have been found to literally target Black men. In 2015, North Miami Beach Police also used mug shots of African American men as targets at a shooting range for its police training as well.

Attorney Dionne Webster-Cox said in a Facebook post last month that a family reported photos of Black men “riddled” with bullet holes in target practice to her law office following a Boy Scouts trip to the police department.

Boy Scouts have enough problems of their own.

Per The Hill, she said the family asked her to speak on their behalf and to share the photos they took.

“These organizations and municipalities must practice radical honesty in acknowledging their negative biases and find ways to change. Otherwise, you will have even bigger discrimination cases and more lawsuits against the city of Farmington Hills, its school districts, and the police department,” Webster-Cox said.  

Gun violence in America is it’s own problem, however, before mass shootings were a daily occurrence, cops were already trigger-happy to Black men. Jeff King boldly stated he was responsible for training yet somehow he will also investigate the matter. With those in power giving mixed messages and lacking credibility, their community can’t have faith that things will actually change.

Some may consider using targets as minuscule in the grand scope of policing, however, when we consider cops shot Jayland Walker over 60 times not even one week ago, it’s clear that they see us as the unkillable enemy whether on paper or in person.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...